Offered a reward but ended up with a monthly “membership” fee

What’s this offer of “Dermallo” from the Delta.com site? Pat Morin wants to know. So will you. 

Question: A few months ago, while I was on Delta.com, I saw a pop-up ad that said I had been “selected” to participate in a survey about my experience with Delta. At the end of the short survey, it promised an “exclusive” reward worth at least $50.

After answering the questions, I was given a choice of a product. I chose an anti-aging cream and then learned I would be paying for shipping. I filled out the mailing information and my credit card info for the postage of $4.95.
There were several more pages before hitting “send”, and there must have been fine print somewhere.

Turns out when I gave the company my credit card, I was enrolled in a program that automatically renewed. Two weeks after my initial order, I was charged $117. Reading the fine print later, I realize that I had 14 days to cancel in order to receive a refund.

I called my credit card company, and it reversed the charges at first. But after the dispute process, they sided with the merchant. A credit card representative told me this could not be considered fraud since I willingly gave them my credit card.

Well, if it isn’t fraud, it certainly is a scam of sorts. It’s definitely not a “reward.”

The product is called Dermallo. I’ve tried calling them, but can’t get through to a manager, and I can’t get a refund. Can you help? — Pat Morin, San Bernardino, Calif.

Answer: The “quiz” you took was a little scammy, no doubt about it. I can’t believe it popped up on the Delta Air Lines site.

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I wouldn’t be so quick to pin this on Delta. Sometimes, malware can infect your computer and display pop-up ads on your page even when the company whose site you’re visiting didn’t approve them. I can’t believe Delta would allow this kind of nonsense. (If it did, then shame on them.)

This kind of pop-quiz offer is problematic because it almost looks legitimate — your personal information in exchange for a prize. But the quiz was only seven questions long, hardly enough time to extract anything of value from you. The tip-off? The fine print was more verbose than the exam, and that should have had the red flags flapping in a gale-force wind.

If you’d taken the time to read the terms, you probably would have noticed that your “reward” had some important strings attached. Not only were you paying for shipment, but you were also agreeing to a membership that self-renewed. In order to get out of it, you needed to exit within two weeks.

That’s incredibly deceptive. Unless you reviewed the terms closely, you might believe you were giving the company your credit card in order to pay for postage. Actually, this business intended to charge you much more unless you navigated its bureaucratic labyrinth.

For the last time, “rewards” should not cost you anything. If you’re paying someone to pay you, it smells a lot like a scam. Exit the ad, and then report it to the host site.

After considerable research, our advocates found the company that charged you. Initially, a representative insisted you’d already received a refund. But after we sent a copy of your credit card statement that showed you were still being billed, the charges were finally reversed.

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I’m happy to help, but please do yourself a favor and install an ad blocker.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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